Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology / Edition 200by Daniel J. Mahoney
Pub. Date: 07/30/2001
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Daniel Mahoney presents a philosophical perspective on the political condition of modern man through an exegesis and analysis of Solzhenitsyn's work. Mahoney demonstrates the tremendous, yet often unappreciated, impact of Solzhenitsyn's writing on twentieth century thinking through an examination of the writer's profoundly important
In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Daniel Mahoney presents a philosophical perspective on the political condition of modern man through an exegesis and analysis of Solzhenitsyn's work. Mahoney demonstrates the tremendous, yet often unappreciated, impact of Solzhenitsyn's writing on twentieth century thinking through an examination of the writer's profoundly important critique of communist totalitarianism in a judicious and original mix of western and Russian, Christian and classical wisdom.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Introductory Note: Taking Solzhenitsyn Seriously Chapter 2 The One True Progress: Solzhenitsyn's Alternative to Modern Liberalism Chapter 3 The Experience of Totalitarianism and the Recovery of Nature Chapter 4 True and False Liberalism: Stolypin and His Enemies in August 1914 Chapter 5 The Ascent from Modernity:"Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" Chapter 6 The Physiognomy of Liberty: Solzhenitsyn's "Tocquevillian" Defense of Local Self-Government Chapter 7 Concluding Reflection: The Soul between Politics and Eternity
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When he is remembered and mentioned today, Solzhenitsyn most often is said to be a courageous "anti-Communist." Then, continues the line of thought, since communism no longer is around (itself not quite an accurate statement), Solzhenitsyn's relevance too is gone. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Daniel J. Mahoney amply demonstrates in his learned, penetrating, and genuinely exciting book on Solzhenitsyn. Mahoney reminds us of the core of Solzhenisyn's critique of Marxist-Leninist ideology: the latter's "anthropocentric humanism," its dream and project of establishing a perfect human world devoid of suffering, conflict - and conscience and the inner need for the human soul to confront its spiritual nature, its imperfections, and its fate before eternity. Solzhenitsyn never forgets the soul and its personal responsibility for itself and the world and he would not let Communists and their fellow travellers, either. This standard, of course, is not merely 'Russian,' nor is it simply applicable to one ruthless ideology and the regime that embodied it. Solzhenitsyn was true to it, and to himself, by applying it to "the West" in his famous Harvard Address. From this event dates the ebbing of Solzhenitsyn's prestige in America, especially among the liberal intelligensia, who henceforth took it upon themselves to misrepresent, willfully and systematically, his views about man, politics, modernity, and Russia. Mahoney has done yeoman's work in dispelling all the myths about the man and his thought, by the most old-fashioned - and convincing - of means: actually reading Solzhenitsyn and analyzing his texts. What's revealed is a man of profound insight into the human soul, and of profound political moderation - the furthest thing from the Tsarist, autocratic, Slavophile of legend. I leave the discovery of the true Solzhnitsyn to the fortunate reader of this book (which in no way is hagiography). After reading this book, one will once again be convinced of the value of genuine scholarship, and the fundamental distinction between it and propaganda, especially of the sort purveyed by eminent "progressive" organs.